By Tassi Mackee
It may come as a surprise to many, but this veteran usually doesn’t celebrate Memorial Day, at least not like I previously celebrated it. I spent six years in the air force as a Russian linguist and intelligence analyst after doing a brief stint with Army ROTC at Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama, at the age of 17. My last air force assignment was at the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, MD, an assignment of which I had been so proud, and really, still am. Many Americans naturally assume that after having spent such an amount of time dedicated to my country that I would be surrounded by friends, flying American flags, drinking, eating, and being merry. However, that is not the case these days, and it hasn’t been for some time. Memorial Day for me has become a day of reflection and solitude.
Memorial Day is an awkward day for me, because it is a solemn reminder of what my life used to be like. It is a reminder of the life that I lived before I realized that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are based on many lies. It is a reminder of the life I lived before I chose to voice such opinions. It is an even more painful reminder of the life I lived before I learned that the attacks of 9-11 were carried out with the assistance of my own government and the security apparatuses of so-called allied nations, namely Israel. Memorial Day is usually a quiet day for me living in the countryside of Louisiana, a place I escaped to after having been a post-service anti-war activist with IVAW and VFP in Washington DC. There are no activists here. These days I am surrounded by an abandoned paper mill, cows, four wheelers, and deer antlers.
As I sit here alone on this Memorial Day, I am overcome with anxiety, frustration, and anger over what has happened to my fellow activists trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I was awake in the early morning hours as the news first began breaking that something had gone wrong. Information began pouring out on the internet that the Gaza flotilla had been attacked, but the death tolls were all different. I stayed online for hours and continuously monitored news from all over the world for the latest information. I can report that the Western media were the last to begin reporting. Long after the story had broken all over the world did CNN only begin to report, and even then, it did not make the front page of their website. Sky News and BBC also trailed in their coverage of the attack. At 2:30 pm today STRATFOR, a subscription-based online publication which spews disinformation for the CIA, sent via email their latest pro-Israel, neo-con diatribe regarding the international incident. It is written by George Friedman and titled “Flotillas and Wars of Public Opinion”. However, this particular false “intelligence” is free, of course, and STRATFOR urges everyone to freely distribute it. How thoughtful, STRATFOR. Happy Memorial Day to you too.
I am once again monitoring the internet for the latest information about the Israeli assault and the international community’s reaction. I have been extremely worried about a friend, retired Colonel Ann Wright, who was aboard the Turkish-flagged ship. Other members of the Gaza flotilla include former Ambassador Edward Peck, current Kuwaiti and Malaysian politicians, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, a Holocaust survivor, and journalists from all over the world. It is being reported that most of those killed were Turkish nationals.
What I would like to sarcastically say is “Israel, you have really done it now.” But, have they? Yes, have they truly crossed the Rubicon this time? I am frustrated that this remains to be seen. Israel has gotten away with so much in the past, why should this be any different? Will the fact that their assault involved so many citizens from other countries be a decisive factor?
On this Memorial Day, I find myself asking questions about NATO. What purpose does this outfit really serve these days? Is it just a provocation to the Russians like they claim? Is it really a military alliance that will defend member nations in the event of an assault? How will you respond to the murder of many Turkish nationals in international waters, NATO?
As far as the UN is concerned, I see online reports in which journalists at the UN are asking for Susan Rice. Where is the United States’ top representative for the UN today? France and the UK have their top representatives present, and many representatives are speaking to the media. Susan Rice, where are you? The session ended at 4:30pm, and she was supposed to have issued a statement. I guess she is doing other things. Maybe she is busy coordinating her statements with Rahm Emanuel or Daniel Carmon. Maybe she is busy buying shoes like Condoleezza Rice was doing during Hurricane Katrina.
The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla is just as nasty as the oil that is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico along the Southern border of my home state. I remember fishing in the Gulf as a child. I remember eating the best oysters at restaurants in Grand Isle, Louisiana. I guess I will not be doing that anymore either. At least I have the memories. I can tell my grandchildren what life in Southern Louisiana was like before Hurricane Katrina and the Great Oil Spill.
While BP continues to cover up the seriousness of the oil spill, Israel is busy trying to impose a media blackout on information regarding the flotilla. Before the blackout really began, Israel had the audacity to issue a statement that they had not attacked anybody. Really? I guess my fellow activists shot themselves. BP and Israel have a lot in common. I wonder if they have some of the same public relations consultants.
I do know one thing. If my friend Ann Wright makes it back to the US, she will not be silent about what she saw on the Mavi Marmara. There will be no public relations firm that can attack her credibility or stop her from speaking. On this Memorial Day, I await news of her, and I pray for the civilians who were attacked by Israel like the American servicemen aboard the USS Liberty were attacked.
Tassi Mckee has sent this as a special paper to Opinion Maker.